A game away from a sweep at the hands of the Warriors, LeBron James said it takes smarts to win in the NBA.
“In order to win, you’ve got to have talent, but you’ve got to be very cerebral, too,” LeBron said after Game 3 of the NBA Finals. “Listen, we’re all NBA players. Everybody knows how to put the ball in the hoop. But who can think throughout the course of the game?”
According to LeBron, that’s what it’ll take for a team to overcome the current iteration of the Warriors.
“Now everyone is trying to figure that out,” James said of defeating the Warriors. “How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State, to be able to compete for a championship?”
Now, that all could have been code for “I cannot look at J.R. Smith anymore.”
But it also could have been a message to his next team.
If so, however, it appears the Lakers didn’t receive it.
Soon after landing LeBron, the Lakers followed the move up by inking Lance Stephenson to a deal.
You know, the guy who can’t even focus for four consecutive seconds let alone 48 minutes.
Then they added JaVale McGee, the world’s first and only two-time “Shaqtin’ a Fool” MVP.
The team also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a perfectly fine three-and-D guard with his own questionable decision-making skills, and agreed to a deal with Rajon Rondo, an actually smart basketball player who’s also an ignorant dumbass.
Intelligence questions aside, this collection of guys doesn’t even fit with LeBron. The four-time MVP’s skills are optimized when surrounded by shooters. Of the four mentioned above, only Caldwell-Pope is that. Stephenson and Rondo are most successful with the ball in their hands, an opportunity they won’t often find with LeBron on their squad.
The only explanation I can think of for this quartet of moves, outside of incompetence on Magic Johnson’s part, is that the team’s president of basketball operations has something up his sleeve.
All four deals are of the one-year variety, so perhaps the Lakers weren’t satisfied with this year’s crop of free agents and are instead rolling their cap space over to next offseason, when Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Klay Thompson will be free agents.
Or perhaps a trade, for Kawhi or someone else, is in the offing. Expiring deals do make excellent trade fodder.
Lakers fans had better hope either scenario — or both — is the case.